The journey of India’s struggle against untouchability seems to be a long one.
Ground Report | New Delhi: Around 27 percent of India still practices untouchability. 30 percent of rural families and 20 percent of urban families reported practicing it. Accepting the practice in urban areas, The Continuing Practice of Untouchability in India: Patterns and Mitigating Influence, revealed.
In terms of income, 33 percent of the poorest Indian households practice untouchability, while 23 percent of the richest do so. The report noted that 40-49 percent of Hindi belt households in northern and central India accepted the practice, while the percentage remained 17 in southern India. The report pointed out that education seemed to have a negative effect on the practice of untouchability. While 30 percent of illiterates indulged in the practice, 24 percent of graduates/diploma holders did so. While there is a negative effect, it isn’t very prominent.
The journey of India’s struggle against untouchability seems to be a long one. The Ambedkarite remedies against discrimination on the basis of caste against the ex-untouchables, now called Dalits, were: reservations in education, jobs and legislatures. The communities practicing untouchability demand the abolition of the remedies propounded by Ambedkar, not the resolution of the crisis or the elimination of modern forms of discrimination and atrocities.
The status of delinquent communities also points to another complication that calls for more investigation into the history of reservations in India: the classification confusion. There is a tension between the consistency of such categories within official policy – for example, whether or not you are classified as a Scheduled Caste – and spatial confusion over their application on the ground.
One last radical act
Ambedkar became the Minister of Law and Justice in India’s first cabinet in 1947 but was disillusioned by the failure to pass a reform bill on the rights of Hindu women and the lack of opportunities given to him by the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
By the end of his life, ill with complications of diabetes, he kept his promise not to die a Hindu. Just two months before his death in 1956, he led a mass conversion to a new form of Buddhism in a ceremony with more than 400,000 followers that both affirmed Buddhist principles and denounced Hindu practices. This was his last revolutionary work.
Vajpayee says, “He is one of those characters in history who constantly overcomes his circumstances, the sheer difficulty of overcoming that is something that defines the political arc of his life.”
“And a lot of his beliefs, his arguments, his claims, his philosophies, and the kind of change he has tried to bring about in society and Indian politics are direct products of his own experience.”
In his career, he would advocate for the cause of Dalits through the formation of uplift societies, civil disobedience campaigns and political parties. His willingness to negotiate and even work with India’s colonial masters to represent Dalit interests opened him to charges of being a traitor and a puppet. But he persisted in the belief that the leaders of the freedom struggle were of such a high caste that they could not adequately represent their community.
Despite joining the Viceroy’s Executive Council as Labor Minister during Gandhi’s Quit India campaign, when thousands of freedom fighters were imprisoned, Ambedkar was invited to join the Constituent Assembly in 1946. He was entrusted with the task of making the Constitution of India and becoming the President. Drafting Committee.